Hockey Cheerleader Is Suing the Garden
Posted 19 October 2004 - 07:23 AM
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
Published: October 19, 2004
A former captain of the Rangers' ice skating cheerleaders filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court in Manhattan, accusing Madison Square Garden officials of sexually harassing her and of firing her after she told other skaters that she had been solicited for sex by a Rangers executive.
The accusations in the lawsuit, filed by Courtney Prince, 25, of Manhattan, were similar to administrative charges she filed in March against Madison Square Garden with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After an investigation, the staff of the commission ruled on Aug. 31 that there was probable cause to believe that Prince's accusations were true.
The Garden, in a statement yesterday, said that the accusations in the lawsuit were unfounded, and that it has a "comprehensive work environment policy" that allows "employees to raise any concerns at any time to all levels of management."
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offered in August to conciliate the case, and it recommended that the Garden pay Prince $800,000 in damages. The commission eventually determined that it could not resolve the case through conciliation, Kathleen Peratis, Prince's lawyer, said.
In her lawsuit, Prince seeks unspecified damages from the Garden and two executives.
Prince was hired in 2002 for the Rangers City Skaters, who perform between periods of games. She became the skaters' captain last year. She said that her supervisor, Ryan Halkett, the arena's director of game presentation, had often praised her work.
She contended that Garden managers socialized with the skaters, and warned them not to fraternize with players. Garden managers told her which skaters they liked, Prince said, and which skaters they wanted to attend postgame events. Prince also said the managers had bought alcoholic drinks for the women, some of whom were under 21. One Garden official, Prince said, called the skaters on the first team in the 2002-3 season "the ugliest women" in the National Hockey League.
In an interview, Prince said that Halkett had criticized the looks of the skaters whom she had hired, telling her that some had to lose weight, change their hairstyles or "stuff their bras" to be more alluring.
Last Dec. 22, after a game in which the skaters were highlighted more than ever and Prince was interviewed between periods on the MSG Network, the skaters attended a party at a bar near the Garden called Lobby. Later, some skaters went to a restaurant for dinner. When the other skaters left before her, Prince said, Jason Vogel, a public relations manager for the Rangers, and another man who was not named in the suit offered her a ride.
They took a taxi, she said, but instead of going uptown to the restaurant, they went to Daddy-O's, a bar in Greenwich Village. Vogel and the other man then made sexual advances toward her, Prince said. Once, as she turned to avoid being kissed by the second man, Prince said, Vogel stuck his tongue "down her throat."
In the interview, Prince said that the men had asked her if she liked oral sex and that Vogel had asked if she had ever engaged in a sexual threesome. She said Vogel had said he wanted to have sex with other skaters. She also said that the two men "wanted to go into the bathroom and have sex with her," according to the lawsuit. She rejected Vogel, she said, then left the bar, with Vogel trailing her, and rode off in a cab.
Several days later, before the next Rangers' game, Prince said in the lawsuit that she had told some of the skaters about the incident and warned them to be cautious in their dealings with management. Over the next month, she said, she kept working, and Halkett asked her if she might remain as the group's captain for five more years.
But on Jan. 22, she said, she was called to a meeting with Halkett and Jeanie Baumgartner, the Rangers' vice president for marketing. She said Baumgartner accused her of calling Garden managers "sexual predators" and called her a "pathological liar.''
After the meeting, Prince said, she was never called to skate again, and in March, she filed the complaint with the E.E.O.C.
Prince contended that Garden officials sought disparaging information about her during interviews of other skaters. She accused the Garden of offering some skaters perquisites, like foreign travel, in exchange for negative information about her. Most of the skaters now shun her, she said.
The Garden, along with Vogel and Halkett, the two individual executives named in the lawsuit, declined to comment specifically on Prince's accusations.
Posted 19 October 2004 - 10:30 AM
It sucks -- in written word this story appears to be: the Rangers execs played outside of the rules, while grossed out she respected that and reciprocated in kind going outside the rules in bad mouthing them --- and they in turn invoked the rules and fired her ass. Yeah, she should have followed procedures and reported them. Then both would have their jobs. The Rangers execs are at fault because they can't invoke the rules when it suits their fancy.
It's annoying - if guys want to act like pigs they should expect to be treated as such! They can't act like pigs then demand to be treated with respect. But I do think there's a credible wrongful termination claim here.
My settlement would be: she gets backwages and legal fees paid
then MSG and she can choose either her re-employment or
If she does not wish to be employeed by the MSG organization, she can opt instead to take the equivalent of 6 months unemployement
If they do not wish to re-employee her, MSG can opt instead to offer her the equivalent of one years salary (including any stadard pay increases etc. but NOT taking into account any layoff due to the lockout )
(she cannot opt for a years salary nor can MSG opt to pay an equivalent of 6 month unemployment)
MSG can choose to fire all parties involved and pay the equivalent of 6 months unemployement to each! So HA! I don't find the organization to be that much at fault - hence they get the option to be rid of the whole mess lock stock and barrel. (All severance agreements are declared null and void)
what sucks is our judicial system isn't set up like this. basically she's suing MSG -- they arent at fault so she gets nothing. OR you've got an annoying self-righteous jury who decides the organization IS at fault and makes them pay 20 million dollars or some such nonsense. Oh well...
THEN she should file a separate civil suit against the Rangers execs - the pigs!
Edited by Pepperkorn, 19 October 2004 - 03:45 PM.
I'm here for the party
Posted 19 October 2004 - 03:30 PM
eh - but maybe we're not seeing the whole story
Edited by Pepperkorn, 19 October 2004 - 03:30 PM.
I'm here for the party
Posted 19 October 2004 - 05:32 PM
COURTNEY PRINCE, FORMER DANCER, RANGER CITY SKATERS: After an event with the Rangers we were all taken out to a club like they oftentimes would do. I ended up being separated from the group and ended up just with one of the Rangers' managers and also a reporter.
At that bar, the second location that I was taken to, these two gentlemen went on to describe to me about how they wanted to have sex with me, how they wanted to have sex specifically with which girls on the team they wanted to have sex with and also went on to try to kiss me and do other things.
COLLINS: What did you do with that information and that event? Where did you go? Who did you tell?
PRINCE: I, as soon as all that became apparent to me I thought I was meeting the other girls there, I got up and left and I didn't feel comfortable going to management about it.
I wasn't trying to make a big stink about all this. I wasn't trying to turn this into, oh I've been sexually harassed, you know, sort of statement. But what happened was I went to the girls on the team who most of which were very good friends. A lot of the girls on the team I've known for eight or nine years.
I went to them and I just said, you know, one of these guys has said some kind of disturbing things to me and I think that you guys need to know, you know, as you friend and also as their captain because it was my responsibility to take care of these girls and that was simply all that I said and after...
COLLINS: And then what happened?
PRINCE: After that, about a month went by. Within that month, three weeks or so later I was asked to be captain the next year and everything just kind of went along smoothly until one week I was called back into the office and the management accused me of not only being a horrible captain and that all the girls hated me and all sorts of things.
And the third thing that they said was that I had accused certain members of the Rangers' staff, including my boss, of being sexual predators, which was absolutely not the case. I never said anything about him.
COLLINS: Well, as you, I'm sure well know, MSD (ph) has completely denied all of these allegations. I want to go ahead and bring your lawyer in here for a minute now.
Kathleen, let me just ask you this is a big business. This is a sports business. There is a lot of money exchanging hands. What do you hope will happen with this case? I mean do you really expect to bring about change here?
KATHLEEN PERATIS, DANCER'S ATTORNEY: Well, I hope to get some justice for Courtney. She's gone through a very terrible time for the last several months having been accused of all manner of misdeeds as captain of this team.
As soon as she raised these allegations, as soon as the Garden learned that she'd made allegations of sexual misbehavior by management, she was in effect fired. She's been through a very bad time and I hope to bring some justice for her.
PRINCE: As a, you know whatever you want to call it, as a cheerleader or a Ranger City skater, I expect to go to the games and have the fans and the audience, you know, be -- be sexually aggressive to us or whatever. I mean that's kind of the gig.
I mean we understood what we were there for. But as soon as I leave the Garden and I put on my jeans and my tee shirt, I don't think that I should have to endure that.
COLLINS: All right. I'll just say to the three of you we certainly appreciate your time today. Courtney Prince and (unintelligible) and Kathleen Peratis thanks so much ladies for your time.
PERATIS: Thank you.
PRINCE: Thank you.
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Posted 19 October 2004 - 07:58 PM
so whats the deal then -- sounds like her bitchy skater friends ousted her. Doesn't sound like the execs had a thing to do with it unless they were banging some of the other ice girls or something. I don't know
I'm here for the party
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